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When I was pregnant with my son, I was excited to have him baptized. But, I didn’t realize what would be involved. I naively thought you just called the parish office and picked a day for the baptism. Then, once you had a date, all you had to do is show up. Turns out there is a little more to it.
On top of that, I’ll never forget the confusing conversation I had with the patient but perplexed receptionist as I tried to set up the baptism while pregnant. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t answer the questions “Where was the baby born?” and “What is the baby’s middle name?” And I didn’t understand that most people wait to set up the baptism after the baby is born. I learned a few more things from the experience as well …
Check out your parish’s requirements.
Yes, you can do at least this part while still pregnant. Just send an email to your parish or make a quick phone call. Some parishes require you to take a class (or in these times, you may have a video or a class online that you need to take). And there will be some paperwork for you to fill out, and probably separate paperwork for the sponsors (godparents) whom you choose for your child. Sometimes the sponsors will need their parish office or pastor to sign a letter stating that they are parishioners in good standing.
Pick godparents wisely.
You are only required to have one godparent/sponsor, but you can have two — one of each sex. You may feel pressure to pick certain people — family members, for example. But godparents are there to help your son or daughter grow in faith. So, it is better in the long run to choose someone committed to his or her faith, rather than picking someone because it is expected.
You may not be able to have a baby baptized during certain times of the year — for example, Lent.
I didn’t realize that some parishes have a rule about no baptisms in Lent. My son was born at the beginning of Lent, and so we had to wait until after Easter. When you reach out to your parish, be sure to ask what days and times baptisms are held, and if there are any seasons your parish is unable to schedule baptisms. That way you are prepared for what is possible and available.
Decide on a way to celebrate.
Receiving the sacrament of Baptism is such a big event in your child’s life, and in your life. It is important to make the day special. Your first option is to throw a big party. But, if that’s too overwhelming, find a different way to celebrate. That might be enjoying the company of a few close friends afterwards, or getting a special cake and taking pictures to remember the day. Speaking of pictures, try to at least get a picture with your priest or deacon and the godparent(s) the day of, and a picture of the church and font. Having those pictures to look back on will be nice for your child in the future.
Search around for a baptismal gown.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a christening outfit.See if there are any gowns that your parents or siblings have used that you can borrow, or try secondhand stores for beautiful gowns that don’t cost you an arm and a leg.
At the end of the day, my son’s Baptism was a joyous and beautiful day. But now that I know what to expect, and what to spend time planning, I’m ready for a less stressful experience the next time I plan!
The keys to a great baptism reception